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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

Average Rating 4.5
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Most Helpful Favorable Review

15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

A reviewer

Haruki Murakami is known for his casual narration, his lack of conventional plot structure, and for the many metaphysical happenings in his books that more often than not go completely unexplained. The latter of these things may seem off-putting to a first time reader,...
Haruki Murakami is known for his casual narration, his lack of conventional plot structure, and for the many metaphysical happenings in his books that more often than not go completely unexplained. The latter of these things may seem off-putting to a first time reader, but I think of this as a strength. To put it another way, finishing a novel by Haruki Murakami is like awakening from a dream that you know instantly was important and meaningful, but whose meaning still remains unclear. It is a powerful experience, and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is among his deepest and most complex works. The plot is centered around Toru Okada, who wakes up one day to find that not only has his cat gone missing, but his wife has left him, disappearing without a trace or a reason. As Okada seeks to find her and to reconcile with her, he meets many unusual people who either help or hinder his progress: sisters Creta and Malta Kano, the former of whom describes herself as a 'prostitute of the mind'...a wealthy former fashionista identified only as Nutmeg, and her deaf son Cinnamon...war veteran Lt. Mamiya who survived an encounter in World War II but still feels his life has been taken from him...opinionated teenager May Kasahara who lives in his neighborhood...and his well-known politician brother-in-law, Noboru Wataya. Hovering aroung this narrative is a mysterious bird, often heard but never seen, that Okada feels is winding the world's springs, ensuring that reality continues another day. The story culminates in a most likely metaphysical hotel that can only be reached by descending to the bottom of a dried-up well. There are many side stories and characters that make the book more interesting, giving it more depth and casting different lights on the situations. And while the ending is open to interpretation of the reader, it is a satisfying and ultimately victorious ending, for in many cases Murakami deals not with achieving success at life, but at achieving success at being able to live. Subtle and complex, this is perhaps the greatest of Haruki Murakami's works.

posted by Anonymous on November 10, 2007

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Most Helpful Critical Review

2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

A Trainwreck Garbed in Pseudo-Surrealism

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle would not be a bad book if the first 150 pages and the last 60 pages were removed from its current edition. Put simply, it is a miserably convulted book with vague and often unbelievable (I'm quite sure even surrealists were lost several times...
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle would not be a bad book if the first 150 pages and the last 60 pages were removed from its current edition. Put simply, it is a miserably convulted book with vague and often unbelievable (I'm quite sure even surrealists were lost several times) plot "twists" that chop the rhythm of the novel into a clunking mass, slowing down just as the reader is finally starting to get red-cheeked. Though Murakami's style has been compared to that of Thomas Pynchon, this book alone seems to be more than enough to disprove any allegation of the sort.

The beginning of the text is boring but promising, making you believe that soon you'll be given something really worth while. However, the reader is only rewarded with a good bit of writing that, while skillfully penned in terms of composition, leaves them feeling as if sections of the book (primarily those explaining major plot elements) have been ripped from their copy. Characters walk in and out of view all at once with little or no introduction and, in what appears to be the author's last-ditch effort to suddenly correct this, suddenly decide to spill every personal detail save their shoe size and PIN number with the main character 200 pages later.

While many Kafka readers will be drawn to the feeling of unnatural normalcy that Murakami's work usually exudes, they will starve to death trying to leech off of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. There's nothing to see or read here except a series of unorganised events.

posted by HaydenDerk on April 12, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2007

    A reviewer

    Haruki Murakami is known for his casual narration, his lack of conventional plot structure, and for the many metaphysical happenings in his books that more often than not go completely unexplained. The latter of these things may seem off-putting to a first time reader, but I think of this as a strength. To put it another way, finishing a novel by Haruki Murakami is like awakening from a dream that you know instantly was important and meaningful, but whose meaning still remains unclear. It is a powerful experience, and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is among his deepest and most complex works. The plot is centered around Toru Okada, who wakes up one day to find that not only has his cat gone missing, but his wife has left him, disappearing without a trace or a reason. As Okada seeks to find her and to reconcile with her, he meets many unusual people who either help or hinder his progress: sisters Creta and Malta Kano, the former of whom describes herself as a 'prostitute of the mind'...a wealthy former fashionista identified only as Nutmeg, and her deaf son Cinnamon...war veteran Lt. Mamiya who survived an encounter in World War II but still feels his life has been taken from him...opinionated teenager May Kasahara who lives in his neighborhood...and his well-known politician brother-in-law, Noboru Wataya. Hovering aroung this narrative is a mysterious bird, often heard but never seen, that Okada feels is winding the world's springs, ensuring that reality continues another day. The story culminates in a most likely metaphysical hotel that can only be reached by descending to the bottom of a dried-up well. There are many side stories and characters that make the book more interesting, giving it more depth and casting different lights on the situations. And while the ending is open to interpretation of the reader, it is a satisfying and ultimately victorious ending, for in many cases Murakami deals not with achieving success at life, but at achieving success at being able to live. Subtle and complex, this is perhaps the greatest of Haruki Murakami's works.

    15 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 1, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Down the well of modern thinking

    Haruki Murakami is known for his casual narration, his lack of conventional plot structure, and for the many metaphysical happenings in his books that more often than not go completely unexplained. The latter of these things may seem off-putting to a first time reader, but I think of this as a strength. To put it another way, finishing a novel by Haruki Murakami is like awakening from a dream that you know instantly was important and meaningful, but whose meaning still remains unclear. It is a powerful experience, and The Wind-up Bird Chronicle is among his deepest and most complex works. The plot is centered around Toru Okada, who wakes up one day to find that not only has his cat gone missing, but his wife has left him, disappearing without a trace or a reason. As Okada seeks to find her and to reconcile with her, he meets many unusual people who either help or hinder his progress: sisters Creta and Malta Kano, the former of whom describes herself as a 'prostitute of the mind'...a wealthy former fashionista identified only as Nutmeg, and her deaf son Cinnamon...war veteran Lt. Mamiya who survived an encounter in World War II but still feels his life has been taken from him...opinionated teenager May Kasahara who lives in his neighborhood...and his well-known politician brother-in-law, Noboru Wataya. Hovering aroung this narrative is a mysterious bird, often heard but never seen, that Okada feels is winding the world's springs, ensuring that reality continues another day. The story culminates in a most likely metaphysical hotel that can only be reached by descending to the bottom of a dried-up well. There are many side stories and characters that make the book more interesting, giving it more depth and casting different lights on the situations. And while the ending is open to interpretation of the reader, it is a satisfying and ultimately victorious ending, for in many cases Murakami deals not with achieving success at life, but at achieving success at being able to live. Subtle and complex, this is perhaps the greatest of Haruki Murakami's works.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 22, 2004

    The Under Where of Japan

    Murakami does an amazing job capturing the amazing ennui of suburban Japan: the quiet steets, the orderly backyards and the sometimes tedious monotony of Anytown, Japan. Into the mundane and the boring Murakami drops a load of strangeness and unusual occurences. The contrast betweent the seemingly normal and banal, and the 'far out' of the protagonist's new reality makes the unreal strangely real. Anyone who has spent time in Japan has probably come away with the uncomfortable feeling that there is more going on than meets the eye of the casual, Western observer; Murakami's odd mix of reality, quasi-science fiction and the supernatural lends support to the idea that multiple levels of existence might just exist in contemporary Japan. Like all of Murakami's work, The Wind Up Bird Chronicle is finely crafted, sparing in its use of language and addictive. His are some of the few works that you wish would just go on, and on, and on.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 18, 2008

    Fantastic Book

    Usually I don't write reviews, but I felt that this was such an amazing book I had to. This book compels me to continue reading, and right when I think I know what's happening, the plot shifts. Even four hundred pages into the book I still couldn't tell you how the book will end. This is such a great book that I highly recommend it.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 22, 2007

    Sitting at the bottom of a well, clenching a baseball bat.

    Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle is a mind-bending work that offers both beauty and terror. The plot unravels much like a David Lynch film i.e. it is terrifying, difficult, and at first glance, seemingly random. One is exposed to an array of characters of war, mysticism, politics and history, and each is tied into the story in such a way that one can hardly manage to lose interest. The only point one may feel some plot drag is in the beginning of the third part. At this point, you lose many of the characters from the first two parts ('The Kano Sisters' specfically), and hear little from them for the remainder of the novel. Shortly thereafter, the book picks up with a whole new group of interesting beings. It has been stated many times that the book leaves much to be desired in terms of a 'happy ending', however rest assured that the feelings of both catharsis and accomplishment are felt assuming that one has given Murakami the time and attention he deserves.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Bizarre but Unforgettable

    I had no idea what was going on in this book, but couldn't put it down. I still couldn't tell you what it was about.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 28, 2013

    First time reading this author

    Picked this book to read on a whim, so glad i did! Story is absolutely mesmerizing. Some of the historical bits were not as easy to get through, but worth it. I'm a huge Dean Koontz fan and this book has a somewhat similar feel.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Fantastical Metaphysical Masterpiece

    Haruki Murakami's The Wind Up Bird Chronicles is perhaps one of the best fiction books I have ever read and further solidifies Murakami's position as one of the best authors alive. While most writers, fiction or otherwise, are usually not recognized until after their deaths, it is hard for one to read any of Murakami's works and not be completely swept away. The same is true with this work. Even from the opening of the book, author's imagination overwhelms the readers. Fighting is futile for soon you, the reader, are completely swept away from everything you know to be true about the ways of the world and swept into Murakami's warped metaphysical reality where even the most bland individual, Toru Okada, l is subject to a fantastical adventure that he cannot escape. Soon the waves of this new world overtake you and you find yourself drowning in the complex personalities of Malta and Creto, only to discover that they may serve no grand purpose. The looming presence of a far reaching villain combined with the peculiar emergence and disappearance of Toru's cat keep you trying to keep your head above water and figure out where Murakami will take you next. Though understated compared to other more popular books, this is definitely one of Murakami's greatest works.

    2 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 12, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A Trainwreck Garbed in Pseudo-Surrealism

    The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle would not be a bad book if the first 150 pages and the last 60 pages were removed from its current edition. Put simply, it is a miserably convulted book with vague and often unbelievable (I'm quite sure even surrealists were lost several times) plot "twists" that chop the rhythm of the novel into a clunking mass, slowing down just as the reader is finally starting to get red-cheeked. Though Murakami's style has been compared to that of Thomas Pynchon, this book alone seems to be more than enough to disprove any allegation of the sort.

    The beginning of the text is boring but promising, making you believe that soon you'll be given something really worth while. However, the reader is only rewarded with a good bit of writing that, while skillfully penned in terms of composition, leaves them feeling as if sections of the book (primarily those explaining major plot elements) have been ripped from their copy. Characters walk in and out of view all at once with little or no introduction and, in what appears to be the author's last-ditch effort to suddenly correct this, suddenly decide to spill every personal detail save their shoe size and PIN number with the main character 200 pages later.

    While many Kafka readers will be drawn to the feeling of unnatural normalcy that Murakami's work usually exudes, they will starve to death trying to leech off of the Wind-Up Bird Chronicle. There's nothing to see or read here except a series of unorganised events.

    2 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 8, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Murakami at his best

    I have read several of his other books, but this one was a true masterpiece. A great combination of fantasy and Japanese culture.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2007

    Wind-Up Bird Chronicle

    I guess, full understanding of this book is a hard task for the most of readers. But seems it makes book even more entertaining. Murakami entertains his readers exposing a world of subconsciousness, which is managed by an invisible hand - an invisible energy that we generate. In the book, many characters are subconsciously connected to each other and take actions subconsciously. I guess, it is the reason why Murakami left them unexplained, leaving many readers unsatisfied. The main plot of the book is the resentment between two individualists with good and evil morals: Toru Okada and Naboru Wataya (or likewise Lieutenant Mamyia and Boris Manskinner). Other characters and plots are supportive. The main purpose of Corporal Honda sending empty box to Toru Okada through Lieutenant Mamyia was to connect these two people in similar situation, psychologically fighting with evil. By connecting them, Corporal Honda helps Lieutenant Mamyia relieve his long time suffering, letting him to open his secrets to Toru Okada. It adds Toru's hatred to Naboru Wataya and gives strength to defeat him. From the book I sense Toru Okada is a Lieutenant Mamaya, living in different time. He is similar to the reincarnation of Mamiya (or other people who suffered in WWII), takes actions, to fulfill Mamyia's dream: defeating evil like people and being loved by someone or having sex with woman (Creta Kano) in both real and dreamlike world. This book tells that evil and poisonous people, like Naboru Wataya always exist and succeed far. They exist in the context of different situations and the impact of their negative, powerful energy is fatal. Book gives impression that Murakami explodes his own personal hatred to evil like people and dislike to the dominant social psychology (people's confusion) through his book. I feel like I see Murakami in different characters of his book. Appearance of teenager girl, May Kasahara makes Toru Okada's character clearer. She is strong and bright individual and helps Toru to shape his own view. Murakami perfectly exposes deeper feelings of different people, in the context of different circumstances. Story about Mongolian man who skins people is shocking, because I'm Mongolian and I never heard this kind of things happened during WWII. I'm not really sure whether it is based in historical fact or it is fiction. Anyway, this did not affect at all my feelings towards Murakami and his books. He is great. Even though the book was excellent, I have to admit that, in most of cases I fell asleep while reading. But it does not mean that the book was bad may be I felt the same way as Toru Okada was feeling while sitting in the well.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2004

    Amazing

    This was the first Murakami book that I had read and I was spellbound. It has been a very long time since I couldn't put a book down, but this book was one of those. I read the whole thing in 4 days while on a business trip, and even the annoyances of airplanes didn't tear my attention from this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Remember: Pay attention to every detail of the book, because they are all connected in some intricate way!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2002

    RUN RUN RUN

    Murakami is undoubtedly the most gifted and amazing writer of our times. When I finish one of his novels I feel an urge to run out and buy another one. It is such a pity that I read faster than Murakami writes novels.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 29, 2002

    Occidental Reader Meets Oriental Mind

    I've always had a strange attraction to things Oriental. They say opposites attract, and since Japanese culture is so opposite to ours, I guess that makes the attraction all the more strong. I also like a book that doesn't give up its secrets easily. I just finished wading through Mason & Dixon, by Thomas Pynchon, a book that fought me tooth and nail, but was definitely worth the effort. I wouldn't begin to try to explain the story line of The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, but if you like your art abstract, and have a taste for sushi and koto music, or not, give this book a shot. I think you'll find it hard to get out of your mind, like a dream you don't really understand, and yet can't forget.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 27, 2001

    Top notch, again!

    I've read several of Haruki Murakami's books: Wild Sheep Chase, Hard Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World, The Elephant Vanishes (collection of short stories). Each has been creative and engaging - he writes in a style which keeps you guessing what will happen next, always balancing the surreal with the familiar. The WindUp Bird Chronicle throws in history, relationships, mystery, and a vibrant world you can clearly envision. Well worth reading, I found myself picking it up at every opportunity.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2001

    awesome book by a highly recommened author

    The imagry that the author creates is very vivid, but he leaves some things left for you to imagine. Maruakami brings so many different, unconnecting worlds together with a single thin thread, managing to give their puny existing a world of meaning. The story flows like life does, with characters coming in forever or leaving forever, but their memory stays. He also creates a new keywhole for the reader to peek through- a way of looking at one situation completely different as though you were seeing it for the very first time! This book is fantastic. It's a little hard to follow, but as a High-School student I managed pretty well. I finished it within 3 weeks.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 2, 2000

    A Stunning Read

    This is easily one of the most powerful reads availiable today. I can't reccomend this book to the uninitiated reader, but if you are interested in entering a world anew for about 700 pages of adventure and contemplation, you have found the right book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 12, 2014

    Like falling into a dream

    A mystery and something far more than that -- this novel eventually pulled me so deeply into its world that I stopped thinking of its surreal elements -- psychic phenomena,haunting coincidences, doubles, obscure conspiracies - as unusual. Moving, thought-provoking, and ultimately a book I was sad to finish. And it's made me want to read more of Murakami's books.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2014

    || ☼ Dawnstar's Den ☼ ||

    Request if you need to become an apprentice, or warrior. Or other things.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2013

    Starts simply and gets darkly convolute

    An interesting and unique read. The narrator seems a simple sort in the beginning. His character unfolds through his actions and external dialogue. His internal dialogue witholds. This makes for an intriguing journey that spirals to dark places of a fantastical creation with real consequences. Are some of the characters alter egos, imaginations ? Are we being played? If we are, we love it and follow along hooked until the unfolding at the end. I beg for a sequel.

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